Primary school pupils' emotional experiences of synchronous audio-led online communication during online one-to-one tuition

Humphry, Debbie and Hampden-Thompson, Gillian (2019). Primary school pupils' emotional experiences of synchronous audio-led online communication during online one-to-one tuition. Computers & Education, 135 pp. 100–112.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.03.003

Abstract

Understanding the emotional aspects of pedagogical approaches for primary-aged school children engaged in synchronous audio-led one-to-one online tuition is the focus of this qualitative research study. Data are drawn from the process evaluation element of a large randomized control trial of a 27-week, affordable online mathematics tuition intervention that involved 600 pupils spread across 64 schools in England. Focus groups and interviews conducted with pupils and school staff were used to investigate the pupils’ emotional experiences of the mathematics intervention, with reference to the pupil–tutor relationship and the online environment. Our findings suggest that audio-led synchronous one-to-one online tuition provides variable and limited access to emotionally positive pupil–tutor relationships. Whilst our study largely supports the argument that synchronous technologies enhance the sense of communicating with a “real” person (social presence), we conclude that this does not necessarily have a positive effect. We found that the quality of social presence is contingent on the quality of the pupil–tutor relationship. This paper advances our understanding of social presence theory and highlights the need for program developers to facilitate, and tutors, to consider pupil-sensitive collaborative teaching approaches.

Plain Language Summary

This paper explores primary school pupils' emotional experiences of a synchronous one-to-one online maths tuition intervention. Whilst the synchronous intervention does enhance the children's sense of communicating with a 'real' person, this does not necessarily have a positive effect as it is depends on the quality of the relationship.

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